Meeting to save Adi Ganga
The first public meeting to protest construction of Metro Rail over Adi Ganga, the Heritage River, was organised by Vasundhara at the auditorium of Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, 10 Lake Terrace, Calcutta 700 029.The meeting started at 3-10 pm. By that time the auditorium was full to capacity.
Shukla Mitra introduced Vasundhara to the audience speaking briefly on its past and present activities. Mohit Ray initiated the discussion on behalf of Vasundhara. He informed that a news in a daily on 7th January stated that Metro Rail is going to be constructed on Adi Ganga. Being concerned Vasundhara members enquired to Dept. of Environment, Govt. of West Bengal and to Metro Rail. After being confirmed, Vasundhara decided to launch protest as this will destroy a river both ecologically and culturally. On their request a number of eminent people from the field of environment and culture appealed for cleaning of Adi Ganga and for change in Metro’s plan. Mohit Ray also explained how the work has started without any Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and thus violating legal norms.
Gautam Bhadra, eminent historian, recalled his days when Adi Ganga was in better shape and its link with local life. He also expressed concern about the displacement due to the project. Debashish Basu, a specialist on history of Calcutta and physician by profession, gave a lucid description of the historical and cultural aspects of Adi Ganga. He also described the role of Major Tolly in reviving the canal system. Ashish Ghosh, former director of Zoological Survey of India, talked about the CEMSAP (Calcutta Environmental Management Strategy Action Plan) project and how the recommendation to revive Tolly’s nullah was made. K.Bandyopadhyay, former hydrologist of Calcutta Port Trust, expressed his doubt of reviving the canal system because of inherent problems of tidal rivers.
B.N.Aich, former Chief Engineer, Irrigation and waterways, Govt. of West Bengal, described in details of reviving plan for the canal systems including meeting the problem of tidal variations. Sunanda Bandyopadhyay, Geographer from Bardhaman University, showed satellite imageries of the track of Adi Ganga and explained the rivers present status. Rebati Ranjan Bhattacharya who had first took up the cause for cleaning of Adi Ganga narrated his long lone struggle with the authorities. His effort has resulted in sanctioning several crores of rupees for cleaning of Adi Ganga.
At the end Vasundhara presented an interesting slide show titled “Adi Ganga – From Kalighat to Shamukpota”. Shamukpota is the place where Adi Ganga meets the Vidyadhari river.
The meeting had to be cut short because of shortage of time so no discussion could be held. However the whole proceedings has been highly appreciated by the audience.
The programme was assisted by Calcutta 36, Tollygunge Development Council and Disha. Mazahar-ul-Hussain, Gautam Sen, Basudev Ghatak, Amit Dutta, Saswati Ghosh of Vasundhara and others helped to make it a success.